ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) nominee Asad Qaiser was Wednesday sworn in as the 21st speaker of the National Assembly amid ruckus by the opposition parties. The PTI-led coalition’s candidate Qasim Khan Suri was elected as deputy speaker of the Lower House.Qaiser bagged 176 votes while Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Syed Khurshid Shah received 146 in the secret ballot. A total of 330 votes were cast, eight of which were rejected. Outgoing speaker Ayaz Sadiq administered oath to the new speaker, who then supervised the election of the deputy speaker of the National Assembly.For the deputy speaker’s slot, Qasim Suri secured 183 votes while his opponent Maulana Asad Mehmood obtained 144 votes. One vote was rejected. National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser then administered oath to the newly elected deputy speaker. “We will work in collaboration with all the parties and take positive measures for the sake of country in consultation with the stakeholders,” Asad Qaiser said after taking oath as speaker. “It is a great responsibility to serve as speaker of the National Assembly … I also direct the staff of the parliament to work with utter honesty,” he added.The newly elected speaker went to the opposition benches after taking oath and shook hands with opposition leaders including Bilawal Bhutto and Khursheed Shah, who were seated in the front row.The opposition alliance, mainly lawmakers from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), created ruckus by chanting slogans during oath-taking of the new speaker. The PPP legislators, however, didn’t join them.Extending a hand of cooperation to the newly elected government, PPP senior leader Khursheed Shah expressed hope that the parliament will complete its five-year tenure. In his address to the assembly, Shah said attempts were made in the past to block the way of democratically elected government and the parliament. “I pray that the new parliament completes its five-year tenure,” he added.Outgoing speaker Ayaz Sadiq said the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) could not fulfill its responsibilities adequately and it was the responsibility of the parliament to hold it accountable.In his farewell address to the Lower House, he congratulated Asad Qaiser for being elected to the post of speaker and opposition leader Khursheed Shah for a good competition keeping in line with the parliamentary procedures.Sadiq said it was quite disheartening for him when the parliament members were called ‘thieves’, adding that any difference of opinion should be taken in a respectful way. He said he dedicated a lot of time and efforts towards the opposition during his tenure but was still accused of leaning more towards the government.Sadiq also thanked the PPP for supporting him during the 2014 sit-in when resignations were submitted by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) members. He said he didn’t accept the resignations as he believed that the fate of elected representatives cannot be decided by a small section of parliament. Earlier, the outgoing speaker allowed PTI Chairman Imran Khan to cast his vote for speaker’s election despite not possessing his National Assembly card. When came to cast his vote, Imran Khan did not possess the card. He requested the speaker to allow him to cast the vote. The speaker granted him the permission. Later, PPP MNA Abdul Qadir Patel said he too did not possess the card but was not allowed to cast the vote, which, he said, was a discrimination against him. The speaker told Patel that he was unaware of the matter. “Patel should have better sought permission from me,” he suggested.Published in Daily Times, August 16th 2018.